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The Best Small Food Processors

We love our winning food processor, but it’s big and costs nearly $200. Could we find a cheaper, smaller model that still aces basic tasks?

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Last Updated Oct. 19, 2023. Appears in Cook's Country TV Season 10: When Only Chocolate Will Do

See Everything We Tested

What You Need To Know

Our favorite small food processor is the Cuisinart Elite Collection 4-Cup Chopper/Grinder. It has a sharp blade and responsive controls and is adept at handling tasks such as making dips and mincing vegetables. The KitchenAid 3.5 Cup Food Chopper is our Best Buy. It’s durable and works quickly without overprocessing. 

Interested in a full-sized food processor? Check out our review of these important tools here.

What You Need to Know:

Owning a good food processor is like having a little motorized sous chef living in your cabinet. We use ours regularly to grate cheese; grind bread crumbs; chop nuts; blend soups; prep vegetables; and mix doughs for pizza, bread, cookies, and pie.

While we consider ours indispensable, standard food processors tend to be big and pricey. Smaller processors are a good choice for budget- or space-conscious cooks or for those who want to dip a toe in the processor pond before shelling out nearly $200. We took a fresh look at the small food processor market to find the most versatile, efficient, and well-designed model. Options ran the gamut from chintzy choppers to miniature versions of full-size models from major brands. They ranged from 1.5 to 6 cups in capacity (compared to 11 to 16 cups for larger models), but we wanted something that could cut and blend. So we saved the small, basic choppers for later and zeroed in on 3- to 6-cup models.

As we soon learned, there are downsides to smaller processors. First, they can’t handle doughs well; their workbowls are too small and their motors too weak. Second, they’re not efficient for large-quantity prep—they don’t have grating or slicing blades, and their smaller workbowls maxed out at about 2 cups of vegetables. But a good small food processor can also excel at mayonnaises, dressings, dips, marinades, and sauces—projects that would otherwise require serious muscle or a food mill. They can also handle smaller-quantity mincing, grinding, and dicing. Overall, these compact appliances are ideal for those with limited counter or storage space who still want some of the efficiency and capabilities of a large-scale food processor. 

What to Look For:

  • 3.5- or 4-Cup Capacity: We liked models that were compact but still big enough to be useful for a range of tasks. The ideal capacity for small food processors was 3.5 to 4 cups, which was large enough to handle mincing vegetables, grating cheese, and making dips. 
  • Sharp, Straight Blades: We found that processors with sharp, straight blades made clean cuts when mincing or dicing food. 
  • Low Blade Clearance: We liked models with blades that sat closer to the base of the bowl, with just 3 to 4 mill...

Everything We Tested

Good : 3 stars out of 3.Fair : 2 stars out of 3.Poor : 1 stars out of 3.
*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.
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The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.

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